Reviews Are In

Brian Zick

Howard Fineman: "A Crisis of Confidence" George W. Bush spoke with all the confidence of a perp in a police lineup. (…) What the voters saw on TV just now was a man struggling to come to grips with his own unwillingness to face facts. It's still a struggle. His acknowledgement of mistakes was oblique and not as brave as it sounded at first blush. Mistakes were made, and he said. "The responsibility rests with me," he said. What he meant to convey was that others had made the mistakes, but that he was stepped up to take the hit. Hoo-aw! He said that he had "consulted" congressional leaders of both parties before he came to a decision on sending more than 20,000 additional troops. He didn't really consult with members of Congress, and certainly not with Democrats, unless you consider Sen. Joe Lieberman a Democrat. Larry Margasak and Calvin Woodward for AP: "Bush rhetoric hard to square with facts" In doses of rhetoric hard to square with facts in the region, Bush portrayed the ordinary people of the Middle East as being behind U.S. goals in Iraq, in his speech to the nation Wednesday night. And he declared the need to address Iran's and Syria's support for insurgents, without acknowledging his refusal to engage either country diplomatically, as many U.S. allies and the Iraq Study Group proposed. (…) _Bush declared "al-Qaida is still active in Iraq" and a failed U.S. mission would give such terrorists a safe haven from which to plot attacks against Americans. Although few quarrel with that appraisal now, it is also the case that Iraq — contrary to assertions at the time — was not a magnet for al-Qaida before the U.S. invasion. Boston Globe editorial: "Bush's refusal to face reality" THE INCREASE' of US forces in Iraq that President Bush announced Wednesday night offers practically no chance of thwarting the Sunni Arab insurgency or quelling the sectarian civil war that is turning life there into a nightmarish inferno for Sunnis and Shi'ites alike. The changes Bush proposed reflect a refusal to recognize the durability of the Sunni insurgency and the deeply rooted communal passions that have been loosed. There is really nothing new about the ''new strategy'' Bush proposed. There were earlier attempts to tamp down the insurgency and the sectarian violence by deploying more US troops to Baghdad, and they failed utterly. A surge of US forces in Baghdad last summer only resulted in a higher death toll. Sunni insurgents did what guerrilla fighters are trained to do - retreat and flow around the foreign forces. All the while, bodies of tortured and murdered civilians were turning up in the streets and garbage dumps of Baghdad, victims of Sunni and Shi'ite death squads, who sometimes wore police uniforms. With his decision to replicate counterinsurgency tactics that have already proved ineffectual, Bush is disregarding advice from some of his senior military commanders. They have made it plain, publicly as well as privately, that a small, temporary increase in combat troops for Baghdad and Anbar province can achieve nothing worth the anticipated price in casualties and morale. And the commanders have reason to worry that the regular Army, Reserves, and National Guard are being stressed toward a breaking point. NY Times editorial: "The Real Disaster" President Bush told Americans last night that failure in Iraq would be a disaster. The disaster is Mr. Bush’s war, and he has already failed. Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation, and he did not take it. Americans needed to hear a clear plan to extricate United States troops from the disaster that Mr. Bush created. What they got was more gauzy talk of victory in the war on terrorism and of creating a “young democracy” in Iraq. In other words, a way for this president to run out the clock and leave his mess for the next one. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: "By calling for the rapid escalation of American troops in Iraq, the president rebuffed his commanders, thumbed his nose at the Baker-Hamilton commission and, worst of all, ignored the will of the American people," Andrew Bacevich, retired U.S. Army colonel and professor of international relations at Boston University: "This is really an act of desperation," he said. "I think the war is unwinnable and we need to begin to withdraw."

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